What do we know about where bdsm comes from? 4 Other species

As far as I’ve been able to find, the first person to suggest a connection between the reddening of human buttocks by whipping, and the red sexual swellings of chimps and bonobos, was Alex Comfort.

Bonobos would recognise that sexual presentation posture. This girl's pose happens to be part of a bdsm scenario, but the pose is a sexual signal - for humans who like women - far beyond the bdsm world.

Bonobos would recognise that sexual presentation posture. This girl’s pose happens to be part of a bdsm scenario, but the pose is a sexual signal – for humans who like women – far beyond the bdsm world.

In his book, Nature and Human Nature, he wrote, “mammalian residues still persist in human sexuality, and we may underrate them. Blushing, and the interest of some individuals in the reddening of the buttocks caused by whipping, may contain echoes of the ‘releaser’ sex skin of lower primates.”

That was back in 1966, before Comfort went on to fame and fortune as the author of The Joy of Sex

Comfort’s idea got taken up in another bestseller, Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape (1969). 

Rump presentation again, but with a cane-striped ass. People who aren't into bdsm are likely to think the poor girl has been treated cruelly, and pity and shock will override sex. While people who like bdsm are likely to think that the reddening makes her even sexier. So the reddened ass thing isn't a universal human sexual response; it's one that's specific to some of us who like bdsm.

Rump presentation again, but with a cane-striped ass. People who aren’t into bdsm are likely to think the poor girl has been treated cruelly, and pity and shock will override sex. People who like bdsm are likely to think that the reddening makes her even sexier. So the reddened ass thing isn’t a universal human sexual response; it’s specific to some of us who like bdsm.

“The female sexual rump-presentation posture also occurs in humans,” Morris wrote. “It is there in corporal punishment, with rhythmic whipping replacing the rhythmic pelvic thrusts of the dominant male.”

He added that victims have their buttocks bared for punishment, not to increase the pain, but to allow the dom “to witness the reddening of the buttocks as the beating proceeds, which so vividly recalls the flushing of the primate female hindquarters when in full sexual condition.”

He thought corporal punishment in schools would end once teachers “fully appreciated the fact that, in reality, they were performing an ancient primate form of copulation with their pupils.”

But … that was fifty years ago. By now we should have gone beyond a bit of idle speculation by a pair of hippy-influenced primatologists*, shouldn’t we?

Well, we haven’t. 

The claim is this. We doms, at least those of us who like to mark our submissives with impact play, get many different rewards and pleasures from admiring and fucking our submissives, usually from behind, after a beating.

One of those rewards is genetically hard-wired. Our immediate primate ancestors, like our cousins the chimps and bonobos, reacted to reddened, swollen, warmed asses with very strong sexual interest and arousal. That’s part of our heritage, through some mix of genetic and cultural factors, from our primate ancestry. It’s one of the reasons for our strong sexual reaction to the sight and feel of a freshly disciplined submissive. 

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about what we need to know, in order to assess whether the claim is true. (And why we can’t find it.) 

 

* Yeah, I know Comfort wrote on primatology but his main field was medicine. I just don’t want to write “a hippy-influenced doctor and a hippy-influenced primatologist”.  Don’t rain on my phrases, ok?

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